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Podcast Basics

What is a podcast?

  • A podcast is an audio show, presented as a series* of episodes focused on a topic or theme, available to stream or download via the Internet. Podcasts can vary widely in length, format, style, topic and production value.

*For course-based assignments, you may be creating a single-episode podcast.

Why create a podcast?

  • To communicate your research in a meaningful way to a general audience. It’s a great medium for knowledge translation -- taking academic knowledge and making it more widely accessible.

  • To practice writing in different digital formats for different purposes and audiences.

  • To give voice to the people whose stories, experiences and knowledge you are learning from and sharing.

Planning your Podcast

Review your assignment and brainstorm your concept. 
  • Do you listen to podcasts? Listening to examples of podcasts with different formats, genres and topic areas is a great way to get ideas about how to approach your project.

  • What aspects of your podcast are being graded (e.g. organization, delivery, use of evidence, content and/or technical production)? Is there a rubric to show you how you’ll be assessed? 

  • Who is your audience? Is this for your professor, your classmates, your local community, or everyone on the Web? 

  • What is your  format? Will your podcast be an interview, a narrative story, or a roundtable discussion? Will it be formal and academic, or laidback and casual?

  • Are you creating one episode or a series?

Do your research and compile your resources.
  • What kind of research evidence will you use to support your statements or inform your conversation? Where will you find this?

    • Explore the recommended information sources listed on the Subject Guides.

  • What kind of media will you use in your podcasts (e.g. intro and outro music, sound effects, audio clips, etc.) and where will you find it? Start with the copyright-friendly resources listed on this guide.

Write your script.
  • Reading from a script will make your podcast sound more polished, make your delivery smoother, and ensure you stay within your assignment’s time limits.

  • Find podcast script examples to help you (you can find many examples on the Web). In general, a podcast script would have the following sections:

    • Intro to topic
    • Music
    • Main aspects
    • Music 
    • Outro to topic
  • Write like you speak, don’t speak how you write.  Podcasters generally use more common, relaxed language instead of formal, academic language. Write short sentences, which are easier to speak without losing your breath. Remember, you are not simply reading an essay out loud.

Plan to show your work.
  • How will you cite your sources verbally during the podcast?

  • Does your instructor want a formal bibliography or reference list?

Can I use any music I find on the Internet? 

It depends. Music is often a complicated matter as there are often more than one copyright owner for a song (e.g., the composer, artist, record label, etc.). If you are using music in a podcast that will be available in the classroom and/or on D2L, then educational user rights may apply to your use. If you are publicly distributing a work that contains copyrighted music, certain user rights may apply, but it’s best to source copyright-friendly music wherever possible. 

Can I play a song in my podcast? 

Fair dealing allows for the use of copyrighted works such as text, images, video and sound recordings in multimedia assignments and for you to share the assignment in class presentations or through D2L.

If you are using a song in your podcast, you can do so as long as it does not require changing the format of the music (e.g. copying music from a CD to a file format that can be added to the podcast). 

What is copyright? 

Copyright protects original, creative works (e.g. literary, musical, artistic, performances, translations, communication signals, etc.). In Canada, copyright protection is automatic once a work is fixed and, generally, lasts for 50 years after the death of the creator. After the copyright expires, the work enters into the Public Domain and can be used in any way. Canada’s Copyright Act aims to balance the rights of copyright owners and users. While creators hold the right to reproduce, perform, translate, etc. a work, user rights include exceptions and limitations that permit them to use works for certain purposes as long as certain conditions are met. 

What user rights apply to my use when I share my work publicly? 

When podcasts are only accessible in the physical/virtual classroom or LMS, educational user rights apply. When you publicly distribute the podcast, you can no longer rely on educational user rights. Depending on the context of your use, you may be able to rely on the on Fair Dealing or the Non-Commercial User Generated Content exception. If a user right does not apply to your use of a publicly distributed work, the following is encouraged: 

  • Openly licensed content (e.g., Creative Commons

  • Public Domain content 

  • Permissions (asking a copyright owner for permission to use their work in writing)

  • Stock content (fees will apply) 

Where can I find copyright friendly music and sound effects? 
What is attribution and why do I need to attribute? 

Attribution is giving credit to the creator and providing a source to the work. This is required for both copyright attribution and academic integrity purposes (to avoid plagiarism). Copyright law does not have a specific style of attribution, so it is best practice to use the style your instructor has chosen (e.g. APA, MLA, Chicago, etc.). If you are using a Creative Commons licensed work, the recommended attribution is TASL = Title Author Source License. You can read more and find examples on the Best Practices for Attribution page.

Who do I contact if I have copyright questions? 

Your friendly neighbourhood Copyright Advisor! Taylor Stevens can be contacted at the copyright email for all academic copyright questions and concerns:

Citing Sources: Best Practices for Podcasts

Note: Always check with your instructor about their expectations around citation for projects with audio components. Most podcasts will rely on a detailed written list of sources used, and will keep verbal or voiced in-text citations minimal. However, some academic podcasting assignments may ask you to treat your verbal in-text citations the same way you would in-text citations for a written assignment, with full citation elements included (e.g., author, page number). Ask your instructor if you’re not sure!  

See the MRU Library Citation page for detailed information on how to format your in-text citations and list of sources in each style (e.g., APA, MLA, Chicago). 

Referencing sources as you speak

  • Include any context that might be useful to your listener (think about your audience!). This could mean:

    • The title or location of the source; e.g., a book or podcast title, the title of a newspaper or news website, or the title of a prestigious journal in which a study was published.

    • The credentials of the author(s) you’re citing; e.g., an author’s professional role or scholarly expertise. This can help build your own credibility as it supports your reasoning for using this particular source. 

  • If your instructor has requested full in-text verbal citations, mention the same details you would include for a written in-text citation, according to your particular referencing style. 

Examples with contextual information
Examples using a specific referencing style*

A 2018 study in the Journal of Behavioural Health found that Instagram addiction for secondary school students in the UK was linked to declining mental health. 

Listen to the recording

A 2018 study by Taprobane and Boucher, published in the Journal of Behavioural Health, found that Instagram addiction for secondary school students in the UK was linked to declining mental health. 

Listen to the recording

(*APA Style)

According to CBC news, local businesses in Calgary experienced a 40% increase in profits during the 2021 holiday season compared to the previous year. 

Listen to the recording

According to a CBC news article published in January 2022 and titled “Changing Habits,” local businesses in Calgary experienced a 40% increase in profits during the 2021 holiday season compared to the previous year.

Listen to the recording

(*APA Style)

Debbie DeLearey, a Harvard University professor of sociology and gender studies, describes her experience as a divorcee in her book, Second Adulthood. 

Listen to the recording

Debbie DeLearey, a Harvard University professor of sociology and gender studies, describes her experience as a divorcee in her book, Second Adulthood, on pages 20 to 25.

Listen to the recording

(*MLA or Chicago Style)

F. H. deHaan, author of several books on the relationship between humans and their dogs, suggests that potential dog owners should carefully consider their lifestyle before choosing to adopt a pet. 

Listen to the recording

F. H. deHaan, author of several books on the relationship between humans and their dogs, suggests on page 12 of their latest work that potential dog owners should carefully consider their lifestyle before choosing to adopt a pet. 

Listen to the recording

(*MLA or Chicago Style)

Using quotations 

  • Avoid verbalizing “quote” and “end quote” to mark when a quotation begins and ends. Instead, use clear phrasing to introduce quotes (e.g., reporting verbs) and to transition to your own wording/discussion of the quotes.

  • Note: APA Style typically uses reporting verbs in past tense, while MLA Style uses present tense. 

  • As you read, it might help to pause briefly at the start and end of each quote.

Examples of verbally-integrated quotations (using a specific referencing style*)

Note: The examples below include full citation information, but this may not be required by your instructor. 

A 2021 report by financial advising company Alberta Stats stated, on page 1, that online shopping is at what they call “an all-time high.” This shift in consumer behaviour can be attributed to the rise in demand for socially-distanced or contact-free options during the Covid-19 pandemic. 

(*APA Style)

On page 21, DeLearey calls life after marriage “an exercise in reimagining one’s identity.” DeLearey clearly identifies a certain freedom that comes with divorce, despite its potential for financial and emotional trauma.

(*MLA or Chicago Style)

Don’t forget your list of sources 

Unless your instructor says otherwise, always include a standard list of all the sources you used for the podcast assignment. The list should be formatted according to the specific referencing style that your instructor has asked you to use (APA: Reference List; MLA: Works Cited; Chicago: Bibliography; etc.).

Preparing to Record:
  • Have your script ready. Reading from a script will make your podcast more polished and enjoyable for your listeners.

  • Choose a good recording environment. Try to limit ambient noise coming from your environment. 

  • Warm up your voice. Try talking or singing to warm up. Be aware of what you eat and drink before you start voicing (i.e chugging a soda just before recording probably isn’t a good idea).

  • Wear appropriate clothing. Do not wear clothing or jewellery that makes noise.

  • Choose the right equipment. Find all the audio recording equipment you'll need in the Library

  • Choose the right software. Some free recording tools have limits on the length of recording or file size.  Review your options for recording and editing before you begin.


Recording at Home

Using a USB microphone, headphones and free Audacity software, you can easily record good quality audio on your laptop.

You can also record discussions and presentations using Google Meets.

Recording in the Library Audio Production Room

Record audio with up to four people in the room using the Rodecaster audio interface. Video conferences and phone calls can also be recorded. Learn how to book this space and see this guide to using the Rodecaster with a laptop to record your audio.

Portable Recording

Portable recorders are available for loan from the Service Desk. Find more information on portable audio recording equipment here

Podcasting Kits are available at the Library Service Desk. They include everything you need to record a podcast with up to four speakers. It comes in a case with wheels that you can take anywhere.

Recording on a Phone

You’ll need to have an app installed that will allow you to record audio. Easy Voice Recorder is a recommended app. You can borrow microphones and headphones from the Service Desk.

Books in the Library

So You Want to Start a Podcast

Covers everything from hosting and guest booking to editing and marketing - while offering plenty of encouragement and insider stories along the way.

Make Noise: A Creator's Guide to Podcasting and Great Audio Storytelling

Identifies core principles and delivers essential how-tos of podcasting.

Audio Production Resources & Tools

The Library has an Audio Production Room and Post Production Room on the second floor of the RLLC.

Check out the Audio Production Rooms page for tutorials and guides to the spaces, equipment, and software you need, and to get assistance from Library staff.